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John Passant

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June 2009



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
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Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Michael Jackson: From Pop Messiah to Tragic Pariah

This is an article by a friend and future rock journalist Jenny LeComte. Anyone out there want a good journo? I will write something in the next week on the mass outpouring of grief that is accompanying his death.

Michael Jackson was bigger than God, richer than Croesus and – without a doubt – the biggest celebrity the world had ever seen. Thriller was released in 1982, hitting St Louis – where I was living at the time – like a nuclear explosion.

Ubiquitous would be an understatement. You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing Thriller on an endless loop. I went roller skating with friends every Friday night and horse riding every weekend. The stable hands strapped to it. The roller skating concession stand people made hotdogs and poured cherry cokes to it. The guys down at the petrol station pumped gas and tyres to it. The St Louis Municipal Services work crews swept streets to it in summer and shovelled snow to it in winter. You just couldn’t escape it. It was everywhere.

Thriller was the gift that just kept on giving. I had just made my bloated return from a Thanksgiving lunch at a neighbour’s house when I heard Billie Jean for the first time. It was one of those totally infectious songs that I refer to as `ear worms’. They bury themselves deep inside your brain and make you want to burst into song in the most unlikely and inappropriate places. You can’t get that hook out of your head. You just want to dance.

By the time junior high broke up for Christmas vacation, my friends and I had been practicing the `moon walk’ in my unfinished basement for months. At the Valentine’s Day school dance, my best friend Adrian tried to slide across the gymnasium floor, Michael Jackson style, and set his parachute pants on fire.

In the months that followed, we were unleashing our Michael Jackson-esque moves at the roller rink every Friday night. Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin was a guaranteed floor-filler. Even if you were like me and couldn’t skate for toffee, it was fun to hold hands with your friends and chant along with the chorus.

The debut of the Thriller video on MTV was a Very Big Deal. I popped corn all afternoon, filled every bowl in the house with potato chips and pretzels and even dragged a fold out dining table down to the basement for the occasion. We sipped sodas, stuffed our faces and watched the Thriller video (all 14 minutes of it) in reverent silence. After it had finished, we sat stunned for a few seconds. Nobody was game to say a word. Then a slow hand-clap started somewhere from the back of the room. We all jumped to our feet in unison and gave the Maestro, Mr Michael Jackson, a standing ovation. It was the most amazing thing we’d ever seen.

Michael Jackson truly was the Uppermost of the Poppermost. Thriller spawned seven number one singles, earned Jackson a record-breaking seven Grammy Awards. It was – and still is – the biggest selling album the world has ever seen. This is a record unlikely to be bettered – or even equalled – any time soon.

Thriller was on the top of the charts for two straight years. When you’re a 14-year-old Aussie kid living in a foreign country who hasn’t tasted Vegemite since Thriller was released, two years is an eternity.

The times were a’ changing. We were calling out around the world and we were ready for a brand new beat. A group of us pooled our pocket money and bribed the DJ at the roller skating rink to give Thriller a rest and play an audio cassette of songs I’d taped from a Chicago college radio station. The relief to be skating to something other than Thriller was palpable.

We were just starting to have a really good time when the DJ stormed over, apoplectic with rage, because one of the songs on the mix tape was Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. It was a banned song in St Louis – indeed, most of the US – at the time. The BBC had also banned it in the UK. Taping it off college radio and playing it in a public place almost got me deported.

Things were getting so sexually smutty and suggestive by then that Michael Jackson – the Peter Pan of Pop – simply couldn’t compete. The album which finally knocked him off his number one perch was Prince’s Purple Rain. I picked up a copy at Tower Records in San Francisco on my way back to Australia.

That’s when the goings on in that parallel universe known as Michael Jackson World started getting too weird for words. Thriller gave him so much fame, wealth and power that nobody was brave enough – or stupid enough – to say `no’ to him. And for a fragile, sensitive `little boy in a grown man’s body’ like Michael Jackson, it was a recipe for disaster.

Living in a world full of sycophants catering to his every whim was the ruination of Michael Jackson. Nothing was denied to him, from extreme plastic surgery through to his own personal amusement park packed with thrill rides and exotic animals. It was like the scene in Pinocchio where all the silly young rapscallions are lured to what looks like a fun park and get turned into donkeys.

Later, there were cross-generational sleepovers, two ill-advised wedding ceremonies and three children – including a baby boy affectionately known as `Blanket’ who was perilously dangled from a hotel balcony in Berlin by The Artist Formerly Known as Michael Jackson.

Jackson had long since ceased looking like the African American man he actually was. Instead, he started looking like a pretty young Asian girl at one of those `happy ending’ chiropractor’s clinics that has the Sydney City Council up in arms.

By the time he turned 50 on August 29, 2008, Jackson was a tragic pariah with a face so freaky that children ran screaming at the sight of it and a battery of Dr Feelgoods to take the pain away with Demerol, Dilaudid and a range of other seriously scary pharmaceuticals.

It was clear to anyone with half a brain that Michael Jackson wasn’t half the man he used to be. However, the greedy rock music promoters couldn’t resist turning him upside down and trying to shake as much spare change as they possibly could from the feeble 50-year-old’s military jacket, sequined glove, tight polyester pants, lurex socks and moon boots.

When I heard that Michael Jackson was planning a comeback, I crossed my fingers and started to pray. Even though I’ve been an atheist since birth, I wanted him to do well and figured a little divine intervention (if such a thing exists) wouldn’t go astray.

I visualised a dignified One Man Show, One Night Only with privileged guests paying $5000 a ticket and the proceeds being donated to a Credit Crunched Kiddie Winkles charity. When I heard Jackson had sold out 50 dates and his promoters had planned a lengthy world tour after that, something icy clutched at my heart. I got the feeling Michael Jackson wouldn’t make it to July 2009, when his gruelling comeback tour was due to kick off.

I was right. He died on June 25. I was very sad to hear about his death. Thriller was arguably the most incredible album ever recorded and Michael Jackson was one of the great talents of my generation. I hope he is remembered not as Wacko Jacko, the tragic pariah, but Michael Jackson, the Pop Messiah.



Comment from Arjay
Time June 29, 2009 at 10:23 pm

They say there is a hare’s breath between insanity and genius.If Michael had a normal family life whereby his father showed true compassion and love, then perhaps a contented life would not have produced this genius.

Jackson yearned for for his lost childhood but was caught up in the perversions of his father’s inadaqacies.

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